Early 21st century International / Minimalist Modernism

3 Dec
Peter Zumthor, Kunsthaus Bregenz Tadao Ando Azuma House estudio campo baeza house
Yoshio Taniguchi, new MoMA, New York. Berlin, Schlesische Straße, Building “Bonjour Tristesse”, by Álvaro Siza Vieira Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Boston’s Institute of Contemporary art.
SPACE 1 Bligh, Sydney Richard Johnson Square, Sydney Perry West, Richard Meier, New York 2002
Trump World Tower, Costas Kondylis & Associates, New York 2001 Time Warner Center, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, New York 2001 1 Bryant Park Cook+ Fox Architects, New York 2004-8
     
Summary

The much maligned clean lined minimalistic aesthetic of mid-century International Modernism was revived in the mid-nineties and has again become the dominant commercial architectural idiom, defeating the forays of post-modernism in the 1980s and easily holding at bay sporadic advances by the Millennium Amorphic and Millennium Deconstructivist styles. It has become the language of both high-rise commercial architecture and small-scale domestic alterations, etc (in which case it has eclipsed the earlier fashion to fastidiously restore the Victorian look to houses).
Its resurgence has been surprising and pleasurable, as it is a style to easily do well.Historical background

The term minimalism is also used to describe a trend in design and architecture where in the subject is reduced to its necessary elements. Minimalist design has been highly influenced by Japanese traditional design and architecture. In addition, the work of De Stijl artists is a major source of reference for this kind of work. De Stijl expanded the ideas that could be expressed by using basic elements such as lines and planes organized in very particular manners.

Architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe adopted the motto “Less is more” to describe his aesthetic tactic of arranging the numerous necessary components of a building to create an impression of extreme simplicity, by enlisting every element and detail to serve multiple visual and functional purposes (such as designing a floor to also serve as the radiator, or a massive fireplace to also house the bathroom). Designer Buckminster Fuller adopted the engineer’s goal of “Doing more with less”, but his concerns were oriented towards technology and engineering rather than aesthetics. A similar sentiment was industrial designer Dieter Rams’ motto, “Less but better”, adapted from van der Rohe. The structure uses relatively simple elegant designs. The structure’s beauty is also determined by playing with lighting, using the basic geometric shapes as outlines, using only a single shape or a small number of like shapes for components for design unity, using tasteful non-fussy bright color combinations, usually natural textures and colors, and clean and fine finishes. Using sometimes the beauty of natural patterns on stone and wood encapsulated within ordered simplified structures. May use color brightness balance and contrast between surface colors to improve visual aesthetics. The structure would usually have industrial and space age style utilities (lamps, stoves, stairs, etcetera), neat and straight components (like walls or stairs) that appear to be machined with machines, flat or nearly flat roofs, pleasing negative spaces, and large windows. This and science fiction may have contributed to the late twentieth century futuristic architecture design, and modern home decor. Modern minimalist home architecture with its unnecessary internal walls removed may have led to the popularity of the open plan kitchen and living room style.

Another modern master who exemplifies reductivist ideas is Luis Barragan. In minimalism, the architectural designers pay special attention to the connection between perfect planes, elegant lighting, and careful consideration of the void spaces left by the removal of three-dimensional shapes from an architectural design. The more attractive looking minimalist home designs are not truly minimalist, because these use more expensive building materials and finishes, and are relatively larger.

Contemporary architects working in this tradition include John Pawson, Eduardo Souto de Moura, Alvaro Siza, Tadao Ando, Alberto Campo Baeza,Yoshio Taniguchi, Peter Zumthor, Vincent Van Duysen, Claudio Silvestrin, Michael Gabellini, and Richard Gluckman.

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